If toy Lego blocks make solid tiny forts, why not use giant plastic bricks to make actual buildings?
EverBlock, a new system of modular building blocks, comes in brick-sized pieces that snap together to form coffee tables, couches, and even pop-up houses that can be built in hours during times of disaster.
“We’ve all played with Legos, and we all love Legos,” says EverBlock founder Arnon Rosan. “But the reality is it has a very specific niche use. I think for years people have asked how we can scale up this concept of modularity and universality of life-size objects. And that’s kind of where this idea started germinating. I said, what the heck, let’s make some tools.”
Rosan, a serial entrepreneur, started working on the blocks after leaving another startup. “My kids said to me, ‘Dad, you’re a builder, you like to build things, so why are you wasting your time on Internet stuff that isn’t real?’ It struck a chord. I like to build things and see something physical being created.”
At a previous company, he’d worked on modular flooring for disaster relief in places like New Orleans after Katrina and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. As he worked on the blocks, he realized that they had potential as more than just a novelty item or giant toy.
A house built from plastic bricks is more secure than a tent in a disaster zone. “Tents typically have soft sidewalls, and they can easily be cut and entered,” he says. “If you’re storing relief supplies, having a solid structure is a really important thing.”
When working in Haiti, he quickly realized that bringing in full-sized trailers wasn’t an answer. “Even getting an airplane into Haiti was a real problem,” he says. “So imagine you had the ability to load up a plane with pallets of these and land that plane, and create an entire city for relief workers in a matter of hours.”
A full building, with doors and windows, can be snapped together in about an hour by two people. And the buildings can easily be rearranged as needs change. Since the product launched in March, it’s mostly been used for temporary event spaces and furniture.
“We envision modular cities that can grow and reshape as needed to accommodate incoming and outgoing groups of varying sizes and roles–relief workers, victims, police, and administration,” Rosan says.